The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary ペーパーバック – 2012/7/13
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The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary answers the urgent need for an easy-to-use kanji dictionary compact enough to be easily carried around, yet detailed enough to satisfy the practical needs of the beginning and intermediate learner.
Its basic goal is to give the learner a thorough understanding of kanji by providing instant access to a wealth of useful information on the meanings, readings, and compounds. Normally, the learner must memorize numerous compounds as unrelated units. A unique feature of this dictionary that overcomes this difficulty is the core meaning, a concise keyword that defines the dominant sense of each character, followed by detailed character meanings and numerous compounds that clearly show how thousands of building blocks are combined to form countless compound words.
Another unique feature is the System of Kanji Indexing by Patterns (SKIP), an indexing system that enables the user to locate characters as quickly and as accurately as in alphabetical dictionaries.
Modern linguistic theory has been effectively integrated with sophisticated information technology to produce the most useful kanji learner's dictionary ever compiled. For the first time, learners have at their fingertips a wealth of information that is linguistically accurate, easy to use, and carefully adapted to their practical needs.
• 2,230 entry characters, including all the kanji in the Joyo and Jinmei Kanji lists
• 41,000 senses for 31,300 words and word elements show how each character contributes to the meanings of compounds
• 1,200 homophones with core meanings explain differences between closely related characters
• 386 variant forms used in prewar literature and in names
• 1,945 stroke order diagrams show you how to write each kanji stroke by stroke
• 7,200 character readings, including name readings
• Over 2,000 cross-references and five appendixes give instant access to a mass of useful reference data
"Up-to-date, reliable, and easy to use … this beautifully designed dictionary meets the needs of a wide range of Japanese language learners."—Y.-H. Tohsaku, President, American Association of Teachers of Japanese
"A must for those who wish to overcome the obstacles posed by the study of kanji … an excellent tool that allows even beginners to look up kanji with ease."—Akito Ozaki, President, The Society for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language
I am a beginning, self taught student of Japanese. I have no professor pressuring me to know the Joyo or any other specialized Kanji listings. I want to find the meaning quickly and that, if nothing else, is this book's advantage. When studying Japanese or watching Japanese TV news I keep this book, a Jap-Eng/Eng-Jap dictionary, and Gakken's wonderful "A New Dictionary of Kanji Usage" handy. This red book is the one I reach for first. It has several methods for looking up Kanji, but the SKIP method is my favorite and the main reason to own this book. It might take a while to learn (as does the usual stroke count method), but it is fast. It also usually steers you in the right direction if you make a mistake in your SKIP method search. I don't always find the Kanji (they aren't all there of course), but I do far more often than not. (There are times when I have to use a Chinese stroke count dictionary to get the pinyin translation which I then input at the G**gle translator to find the Japanese or English gloss!)
To get an idea of how most people rate this book, click on Halpern's name on Amazon to see the many reviews of the earlier prints. There you may also see that a true 2nd, revised edition is slated for May 2013. Since time is money, you might want to get any old printing now. The SKIP method gets you the right Kanji fast. You can always switch to a more traditional style dictionary later. In the meantime, when you find the Kanji you are looking for, learn it's stroke count and order and/or write it. Eventually, you will be ready for any type of Kanji dictionary.